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U.S. to Seek WTO Ruling on Biotech Goods Ban

European restrictions against such products violate global trade laws, the administration says.

June 20, 2003|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The United States will ask the World Trade Organization to overturn Europe's ban on new biotech foods and other goods, claiming that the policy violates global trade rules, the Bush administration said Thursday.

Last-ditch consultations this week between the United States and European Union failed, and the Bush administration will file a formal WTO complaint, the U.S. trade representative announced. An initial WTO ruling could come next spring.

"We are disappointed but not surprised that these consultations have not resulted in any changes to the EU's 5-year-old illegal and unscientific moratorium" on new genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, U.S. trade representative spokesman Richard Mills said in a statement.

In Brussels, the EU defended its position, saying it was not violating trade law. "The EU has underlined its legitimate right to

U.S. farmers have clamored for the WTO complaint, saying the EU is violating trade rules by blocking new biotech products without scientific reason.

Ironically, the European Commission has been pushing to get the moratorium repealed, with officials fretting about ceding a burgeoning biotech industry to the United States.

But with consumer sentiment in many European countries running high against biotech foods, it has failed so far.

U.S. corn farmers say they are losing about $300 million in sales to the EU each year because of the trade barrier.

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